Tuesday, November 3, 2009

NACCM 2009: Creating a Customer-Centric Social Media Strategy that Works

Business owners want to jump on the social media bandwagon but just don’t know where to begin. Becky Carroll, founder of Customers Rock!, believes you must have a strategy to engage in social media today. In her presentation today, "Putting Together a Customer-Centric Social Media Strategy that Works: Deciphering the Hype from Reality", she discusses how to put together a customer centeric social media strategy that works.
Why consider social media? Carroll says because your customers want it or management wants it. She reminds us that 60% of Americans are using social media, 93% believe a company should have a presence in social media and 85% believe a company should interact via social media. Using social media helps to remove the “faceless veil” so that customers can get to know you on a personal level says Carroll.

According to Carroll, hitting the Social media sweet spot allows us to:
– build trust with customers
– build community
– WOM maximizer
– two-way conversations

Based on the book Groundswell, Carroll shares several reasons to use social media: to listen, talk, energize, help and embrace your customers. Ask your customers which social media venues work best for them.

How do you create a social media strategy? Carroll says you should participate by first listening, deciding what you want to do with your customers and choose the right tools. Establish social media goals. What do you want to do? Share your expertise, build relationships, create a conversation, customer service, or be more human?

Carroll shared several company examples which are successfully using social media. She mentioned the top three brands with the deepest brand engagement using social media Starbucks, Dell and Ebay. Other examples include Coca Cola, JetBlue and Cisco. Coca Cola’s Fan Page was developed by two loyal customers. JetBlue Airways uses Twitter for customer service and has over 1.4 million followers. Cisco CEO John Chambers was captured on video in his office doing duck calls. The video was posted on their blog and allowed customers to see his human side.

The key to social media is in the planning. Decide who is in charge of social media. Many are outsourcing to marketing companies and PR firms. Carroll believes you should not outsource this to someone outside of the company. Find someone in your organization who would love the opportunity to create conversations about your company. Everyone needs to be involved in strategy: marketing, customer service, R&D, C-level, and employees.

Decide which metrics are the most critical. Start with small, focused pilots. Remember, you must be consistent as it is a relationship-building activity for the long term according to Carroll. Ask for customer feedback and revise your strategy as needed.

You can engage in social media in a planned way. Set up the plan and get your organization involved. According to Carroll, it takes a little nurture and care. Little things like “thank you” matter to your customers. Begin by listening is Carroll’s strongest advice.

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